We have waited in waiting rooms over a dozen times recently as we wait for lab work, procedures, visits with the doctors and then treatments for Claire’s cancer. What we have seen while waiting is sobering. We have seen that cancer is a reality for a lot of people and people of all ages and backgrounds. We have seen many people our age but we have also seen young mothers, teenagers and very small children with the tell-tale wristband that identifies them as fighting some kind of cancer.
And we have learned that there can be an almost instant comradery that occurs with cancer patients. Ordinarily waiting in such places I don’t pay that much attention to others waiting there. I am there for whatever I need and the things that the others are there for are likely all over the map. In these waiting rooms, there is a common theme. They are all fighting a deadly disease. Conversations sometimes start quickly and bonds are also formed quickly even if only for a short time. We hear stories of success, frustration and tragedy. But we also hear stories of tremendous bravery when someone is facing stage 4 cancer. One woman we talked with was laughing and saying that she will enjoy the life God has given her as much as possible until the very end and then enjoy the new life in heaven.
When you go through a difficult ordeal, it helps to know that others have gone through it or are going through it as well. We aren’t alone in the fight even though others can’t really help us in the fight, just knowing that they are also fighting is encouraging. But such comradery is limited. It helps to know that someone understands what you’re going through. It helps to know that others may be feeling the same emotions and frustrations as you are going through. But at the end of the day, those who are there with you cannot really help you in the actual fight. They can encourage and support and even pray, but they can’t fix it.
But here is the remarkable thing that helps so much. We who are in Christ are truly not alone because God goes with us. God goes with Claire and I into the infusion clinic and into the doctor’s offices and testing rooms. God also goes with each one of us when we are so tired that we don’t know how we will make it. God goes with us when our children are hurt or struggling. God goes with us when we lose our jobs or our loved ones. God goes with us when our work gets so wearying or frustrating we don’t know what we are going to do. God goes with us no matter what we do or where we go.
I sometimes end our worship services with this blessing:
God go before you to guide you.
God go behind you to protect you.
God go beneath you to support you.
God go beside you to befriend you.
Be not afraid.
And let the blessing of Almighty God,
The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Descend upon you, settle in around you, and make its home in you.
Be not afraid.
Go in peace.
Those words have come to mean so much more now as we press on. We have others who love us, support us and pray for us. We have still others who truly understand the particular battle each of us may be fighting. But above all else, we have God who goes with us to guide, protect, support and defend us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? Let us go in peace with the blessing of Almighty God.